By Victor Schwartzman
January 13, 2014
Community consultation processes! Roundtables! Many of us have enjoyed the thrill of being consulted by a governmental agency or even the Government itself. The last time he was consulted at a round table, B.C. Budd could not sit for a week! Ouch!
Vancouver Coastal Health is generally responsible for providing just what you think. At first, it looked as if VCH had become enlightened regarding the future of long term residential care for people with disabilities. VCH appeared ready to turn a new leaf. It was on board. It was looking at the root of the problem, twigging to concerns, ready to branch out. VCH had a trunkful of new ideas.
But B.C. Budd worried someone might become a sap.
VCH is responsible for two major institutions. Dogwood Lodge houses about 100 individuals with cognitive impairments, while George Pearson Centre is the long term home for individuals with severe physical health challenges (currently, 114 people.) Both facilities are way past their expiry dates. They need to be replaced. And that is where VCH has a Bold Plan.
To get community feedback on its Bold Plan, VCH held a series of community roundtables last year. B.C. Budd attended one. Discussion literature provided by VCH stated Dogwood residents are at elevated risk simply by living there. When B.C. Budd asked a VCH official what was being done to stop the residents from being at elevated risk for the few years until Dogwood is replaced, the response was a blank look.
B.C. Budd is used to glazed looks in Lotus Land. But blank?
Apparently it was the wrong question, so there was no answer. That led to B.C. Budd wondering how serious VCH was about its Bold Plan. How serious is it about providing the cutting edge long term assistance which the Dogwood and Pearson residents (current and future) require?
The aging buildings sit on 25.4 acres of prime real estate. Part of the Bold Plan is to sell off or otherwise earn income from that land. For that, the details were clear. There were even artists drawings of what office buildings and apartment blocks might look like in the new development. Or illustrating what walkways would look like (including a person in a wheelchair who was smiling and therefore probably not a George Pearson resident.)
What would happen to the 200+ people currently living in Dogwood and George Pearson? Or to future people who require long term assistance? Here B.C. Budd saw no diagrams or artists conceptions. VCH offered several options, including two new long term care facilities and some kind of undefined independent community living. Compared to the business and real estate development plans, there was nothing.
One group with a stake in the Bold Plan were the residents living in George Pearson. The George Pearson residents committee gave the Bold Plan a bold thumbs down. And they were prepared to fight. After all, what was at stake was where they would live for the rest of their lives.
In Lotus Land we are nothing if not flexible. Bendy, even. Yesterday there was a Bold Plan. Today, as a result of the community roundtables, the Bold Plan ceases to exist. No explanation. Just gone. B.C. Budd respects that VCH heard the community feedback and, apparently, knew it had to change. What it learned remains a mystery as do its true intentions.
It was time for Bold Plan 2A New Beginning!
Bold Plan 2 suggests about 94 independent living units for the George Pearson residents. Where are the other residents? Where are the Dogwood residents, who by definition are not competent to make important care decisions? For them, Bold Plan 2 offers villages.
To B.C. Budd the villages look a lot like wards.
Are the large residential care institutions gone or is the plan to rename them? How integrated would the independent living units be within the community? Would those units and the villages all be in one building? In a cluster of buildings close together? Scattered through new developments of townhouses?
Not to lumber through wooden puns again, but Bold Plan 2 got hit with a chainsaw and turned into firewood. The George Pearson residents committee rejected it. Other groups from the community also rejected it.
It was time for Bold Plan 3!
Health bureaucracies look for stability, quality care and getting on with business the way they want to do it. Nagging long term patients create problems. The George Pearson residents are strong and vocal. VCH must do something. It might be willing to delay decisions for another twenty years but the buildings have to go because the land must be developed.
On one side are the residents and community advocates. On the other side, pressure from medical staff who like the institution model and from workers worried about their jobs. The finishing touches are being put on Bold Plan 3. B.C. Budd has learned what it is.
There will be three options coming our way:
Option One: put the residents in downtown rooming houses. It worked for people with mental health challenges. Give them money for a room in a seedy hotel, and a steady supply of pills, and then forget about them. Unfortunately, this option developed critics after violent random attacks by possibly some of those former residents. No one wants to talk about it much.
So option one probably wont work. Lets just move on.
Option Two: place George Pearson residents in stylish state of the art independent community living units on the moon. Specifically, the dark side of the moon. VCH will note that the Russians, Chinese and Indians are exploring the moon, and with international cooperation, we can establish an international long term residential care moon base. Some George Pearson residents require breathing assistance and therefore can easily adapt to space suits. Also, the lighter gravity should make it easier for people with mobility impairments to gamble about. However, a drawback is that family visits from earth could be a problem.
Intriguing as it is, Option Two is expensive and requires international cooperation. It is likely to fail on those grounds alone.
That leaves Option Three: develop a dimensional rift through which VCH can permanently send George Pearson residents. A rift has been achieved but to date unfortunately has only allowed nasty stuff to come into our dimension, as documented in The Mist and Pacific Rim.
Lotus Land is certainly a Canadian leader. Perhaps not in long term residential care or access law or human rights. But give us time. Remember: we are three hours later!
Next week: Back To Ontario For Nostradamus Lost Predictions For 2014; We Apologize For Not Writing About Ontario All The Time But At Least Something On Access Is Happening In B.C.
Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly satiric column to Accessibility Newsnothing in these columns is true except what they are about. His graphic novel (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, http://www.redfez.net. He also contributes a monthly poetry review to the online magazine, Target Audience ( http://www.targetaudiencemagazine.com .), has had poetry and short fiction published (by someone else), and has edited novels. [end]
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